Lots of people think that K-pop is only about the dancing and visual flair. In this music genre, there are indeed artists giving great vocal performances. Which is why, in this article, I’m going to present to you my personal list of the best vocals in K-Pop, and share my thoughts on what makes the music and artistry so impressive.
So, whether you’re a die-hard K-Pop fan, or you’re skeptical of the entire genre, let’s jump right into it!
Best Male K-Pop Vocalists
Let’s begin with Daesung from BIGBANG.
BIGBANG’s Daesung has an impressive range and powerful voice; he truly has some of the top K-pop vocals out there! Unlike many K-pop vocalists who tend to sing on the softer side, his voice is loud, almost booming.
He is also skilled enough to perform without straining his vocal cords. Furthermore, his performances are always top-notch – he has an amazing stage presence as he sings. On stage, he comes across as comedic and lighthearted, really commanding his audience.
Daesung can sing in a variety of styles, from EDM to rock and R&B. His voice also, surprisingly, suits the traditional Korean trot music style.
After a long hiatus, BIGBANG recently had their comeback with the single Still Life. Although no live performances have been done to date, you may still have a taste of his beautiful vocals through the music video!
Woosung (The Rose)
Originally from California, Woosung is a solo artist, and also part of the K-rock group The Rose.
His voice is quite distinctive – it’s something you can easily identify just by having heard it once. You will be able to pick out his voice immediately from a song. It has a really unique texture that stands out from the crowd.
While his voice isn’t for everyone – with some describing his voice as rather yelpy – it is definitely expressive and beautiful. I think that this ‘yelpy’ quality is more of a reflection the emotion he puts into his voice as he sings.
Woosung’s voice doesn’t sound like a lot of K-pop vocals tend to sound like, which is what might put people off, but his voice really is lovely to listen to. Below, you can hear his unique vocals in The Rose’s of Coldplay’s Yellow:
Seungmin of Stray Kids (spoiler alert: he’s another one of the best K-pop vocals to be introduced later!) is a big fan of Day6 – and for good reason! All of the vocalists in this group are extremely talented. Wonpil, in particular, has a powerful, well-trained voice that is lovely to listen to.
In his recently released solo album Pilmography, – a pun combining part of his name with the word ‘filmography’ – his vocals truly shine, especially in the song Voiceless. His voice really suits these more emotional, ballad-type songs. His vocals also stand out in Day6’s group songs such as You Were Beautiful.
Also from BIGBANG, Taeyang is perhaps most known for his solo Eyes, Nose, Lips. While he is from the same group as Daesung, I included Taeyang because I think that their voices are just so beautifully distinct from each other, and they also really stand out in K-pop in different ways, which earned them both a place on this list.
Taeyang’s voice is beautiful, tender, and expressive. Like Daesung, he also has an incredible stage presence, but his presence is somehow on the softer side. It’s less joking, and more emotive and peaceful. His voice shines a lot in the new single Still Life, which is a wonderfully nostalgic song about youth and time.
Seungmin (Stray Kids)
Stray Kids’ Seungmin wowed everyone with his vocals in Kingdom last year when he covered Love Poem. His voice is smooth and emotive, truly drawing you into the story he tells through the song. Seungmin’s vocals are infectiously emotional. No matter what he sings, it truly touches your heart like a magic healing power.
More recently, on Lee Mujin Service, he covered Kim Dong-ryul’s Drunken Truth and Kwon Jin-Ah’s Behind the Page. You can tell that he has worked hard and improved a lot since his debut with Stray Kids. He never strains his voice and sings in a really healthy way, which is really important if you don’t want to damage your voice.
I really look forward to seeing what he does next!
Best Female K-Pop Vocalists
Let’s kick this off with the talented Siyeon.
Dreamcatcher is full of amazing vocalists, with Siyeon taking her rightful place as the main vocalist. She is extremely talented, with great technique.
On Dreamcatcher’s YouTube channel, Siyeon posted an excellent cover of Speechless from Aladdin. In this cover, you can hear all the emotion behind her voice. It’s so enjoyable to listen to – you could really just watch it over and over again. And she doesn’t struggle at all to hit the high notes!
In K-pop, female vocalists tend to sing on the softer side. While Siyeon is able to do this too, her voice really shines in more powerful songs – lucky for her, most of Dreamcatcher’s discography happens to be in this realm!
Dreamcatcher recently had their comeback with MAISON, which talks about the climate crisis – something not often talked about in K-pop.
Mamamoo’s vocals are famous even outside of the K-pop world. All of their vocalists are known to be great, and they complement each other really well. Solar’s voice stands out a lot, especially in her recent solo release HONEY and the K-drama Vincenzo’s English-language OST Adrenaline.
Solar has a confident voice, with great technique. The sound is clear, and nice to listen to. She is able to do a variety of styles including R&B. Solar has great range too, and wonderful stage presence because of her ability to play with her voice and to joke around even while singing.
Lee Hi is a soloist who debuted in 2012. She has a very pleasant voice that is a real joy to listen to even if her music isn’t quite your style. Her vocals are clear and comforting, yet they are intensely expressive, too. Even when you don’t look at the translation of the lyrics, she’s able to make you feel exactly what she’s feeling. It’s truly magical.
Her voice truly shines in her 2020 release HOLO. She’s great as a soloist, but also works really well doing duets. For example, her song Savior that she sings with B.I is just beautiful.
Lee Su-hyun (AKMU)
AKMU (Akdong Musician) includes Lee Su-hyun and her brother Lee Chan-hyuk. Lee Su-hyun is the main vocalist, while her brother accompanies her and also writes all of their songs.
When she sings, she makes it look so effortless, despite the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Her voice is also very versatile – it can be strong and powerful, but it can also sound dreamlike and otherworldly. Lee Su-hyun’s vocals stand out in songs like ALIEN (2020) and DINOSAUR (2017).
What’s really special about her is that when she performs, she looks like she’s enjoying every minute of it. You can just tell that singing is something that she loves to do.
Heize debuted as a soloist in 2014 with her eponymous EP Heize. Her voice is soft and feminine, yet sometimes sultry. She mostly suits slow, OST-type songs. A good example of her voice is Your name ft. ASH ISLAND.
Below is a clip of her singing You, Clouds, Rain live with Shin Yongjae. Something great about her voice is that it works well with others – there is a special quality to it that allows her to complement the voice of whoever she sings with.
K-Pop on Vinyl
So you might be wondering: are there any K-Pop groups on vinyl? Well, the answer is yes–but it’s somewhat limited. One of the more prominent options is Blackpink’s debut album, which was released on pink vinyl.
For those that don’t know, Blackpink is an all girl group that hails from South Korea.
There are so many wonderful K-pop vocalists out there! It isn’t just about the visuals or the intricate dance choreography. There is some real talent out there in the K-pop industry.
While this certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of the best vocals in K-Pop, hopefully you now realize that there are some pretty incredible male and female K-pop vocalists!
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